Links 11/2/13

‘We don’t just rescue two-legged victims’: Touching moment firefighters save dog from flood waters Daily Mail

Elephant society ‘still disrupted decades after cull’ BBC (Lambert)

Trees help at-risk species keep cool BBC (Lambert)

Climate Change Seen Posing Risk to Food Supplies New York Times

A study in the dynamics of international flows… #4 Angry Bear (furzy mouse)

Chinese journalist tries to crowdfund his career Associated Press

Japan Likely To Pass New Secrecy Law That Would Put Whistleblowers And Journalists In Jail Techdirt (Chuck L)

Breaking: shots against three young men close to Golden Dawn offices in N. Herakeio-Athens unbalanced evolution of homo sapiens (no more banksters)

Taliban leader’s death may strain U.S.-Pakistan relations Washington Post

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Meet “badBIOS,” the mysterious Mac and PC malware that jumps airgaps ars technica (Carol B) Whaaat?

NSA Files Decoded: What the revelations mean for you Guardian

How Much Did President Obama Know About the N.S.A. Eavesdropping on Angela Merkel? New Yorker (furzy mouse)

Snowden Asks U.S. to Stop Treating Him Like a Traitor New York Times

UK: Snowden reporter’s partner involved in ‘espionage’ and ‘terrorism’ Reuters (p78)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s New NSA Bill Will Codify and Extend Mass Surveillance of Americans OpEd News (Chuck L)

‘Courage Is Contagious’: Additional NSA Employees Said to Be Following Snowden’s Lead Common Dreams (Deontos)

Civil Liberties Organization Calls on Administration to Drop Charges Against Edward Snowden Partnership for Civil Justice. Hey, how about a White House petition? (IIRC, earlier petitions called for him to be pardoned, which is a non sequitur since he hasn’t been tried and found guilty) I’m sure it would get at least a million signatures and it would be entertaining to see what sort of doublespeak Obama would muster in response.

Man sues DHS, NSA for the right to parody them on mugs, T-shirts ars technica (Carol B). We need a lot more Optor-type stunts on the surveillance state front.

Obamacare Launch

Troubleshooter Reports Progress and Barriers in Bid to Repair Health Portal New York Times. This is consistent with Lambert’s citation of a rule of development, which I’m quoting inexactly: Putting more people on a late project makes it later.

Obamacare losers could pack punch Politico

Which Plans Cover Abortion? No Answers On NPR (furzy mouse)

ObamaCare Clusterfuck: How was CGI supposed to do any debugging without access to the logs? Corrente

Pirate Crashes Anti-Debt Group’s Event, Is Ushered Away by Giant Can Slate

Syrian Refugees To Get Prepaid ‘Debit Cards’ To Buy Groceries Instead Of Packaged Meals Huffington Post (Carol B)

Mich. man claims he told US where bin Laden was Associated Press

Attacks On Clean Energy Failed Across The Country: Report Huffington Post (Paul T)

J.P. Morgan’s Legal Woes Extend to Oil Patch Wall Street Journal (JR)

Slow-motion regulatory explosion update FT Alphaville

Four Intriguing Ideas for How to Fix the Banks Bloomberg (furzy mouse)

The US capital stock: old and busted, but why? FT Alphaville. Not only is government underinvesting in infrastructure, but enterprises are also underinvesting….

$5bn in US food stamp cuts set in Guardian

Families brace as billions in food stamp cuts set in NBC (furzy mouse)

California Housing Bubble 2.0 in Pictures Mark Hanson (Scott)

Two Forces and Three Bears James Howard Kunstler (Carol B)

RUSSELL BRAND-BASHING AND THE LEFT’S PREFERRED POWERLESSNESS Essential Opinion (DakotabornKansan). BTW, three separate YouTube clips of the interview together total over 11 million views in just over a week, and that doesn’t include the people who viewed the segment on the BBC website.

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse)


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. AbyNormal

    here’s a state by state Interactive Map of Food Stamp Cuts

    I can’t believe this is happening at this time in our ‘recovery’…it’s literally the cruelest direct action I’ve witness against Elderly & Children in my lifetime. Hunger is slow torture
    here’s a short list to look forward to:

    fatigue and low energy
    poor immune function (which can hamper the body’s ability to fight off infections)
    dry, scaly skin
    swollen and bleeding gums
    decaying teeth
    slowed reaction times and trouble paying attention
    poor growth
    muscle weakness
    bloated stomach
    osteoporosis, or fragile bones that break easily
    problems with organ function
    problems learning

    “A hungry man is not a free man.”
    Adlai E. Stevenson

    1. DakotabornKansan

      On Monday, the Navy launched its new stealth destroyer – the USS Zumwalt.

      Originally 32 Zumwalt class destroyers were planned. The Zumwalt class destroyers were designed to be efficient and cost-effective. However, when their up-front construction costs grew to an estimated $3 billion per ship, the quantity was reduced to ten destroyers, then three.

      “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

        1. AbyNormal

          The Navy Thinks This New $7 Billion Ship Is The Answer To All Its Chinese Concerns

          Looking a bit like an old Civil War Ironclad, the $7 billion DDG 1000 USS Zumwalt will focus on land attacks, relying heavily on its advanced stealth technology to slip in close to shore before unleashing its massive onboard arsenal.

          A new take on the Zumwalt was published today by the Eric Talmadge at the Associated Press who points out that in addition to the ship’s wide array of conventional weapons the Zumwalt will eventually carry the Navy’s much anticipated “railgun”.

          The railgun is an electrically powered artillery weapon that launches massive projectiles at high speeds without the use of gunpowder or explosives. Instead, an electric current is run through the artillery shell, the current interacts with the magnetic fields in the rails and pounds the shell from the barrel.

          The Navy successfully tested the railgun in February, but it has not yet been fielded for service.

          The Zumwalt was originally estimated to cost about $3.8 billion, but so much technology crammed on board that its cost has nearly doubled, and after the first three are built, production will stop. Including the exhaustive research and development required by each vessel to total cost jumps to $7 billion apiece.

          @DbK, Appreciate the ‘bulls-eye’ Eisenhower quote

          1. Walter Map

            Does that $7 billion refer to the cost of the ship, the estimated profits of the war profiteers, or the bribes paid to get the project approved?

            No new nucular weapons should be budgeted until they’ve used up the ones they already have.

            1. AbyNormal

              well, the price was 3.8B and jacked to 7B…aside from the new an improved fire power, i bet the rest is profit. they were going to build 10 of these destroyers but now it looks like only be 2 maybe 3.

              ironically i posted this over at another NC thread:
              China maintains the fastest-growing fleet of ballistic and cruise missiles on the planet, and soon will deploy a nuclear-tipped, submarine-launched ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States from Chinese waters, according to a new Pentagon report.

              Beijing’s new submarine-launched ballistic missile, the JL-2, will for the first time enable Chinese submarines to strike parts of the United States from China’s coastal waters, states the 2013 Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat Assessment, produced by the Department of Defense’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center.

              It adds that the number of Chinese ICBM nuclear warheads capable of reaching the United States “could expand to well
              over 100 within the next 15 years.”
              (they launched some this past week)

              the Navy is cutting its submarine force by 30 percent, the admiral in charge of Pentagon submarine programs told Congress on Thursday. 9/13/2013

      1. OIFVet

        “War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes” – General Smedley Butler.

  2. Jim Haygood

    Spot the propaganda in the ‘Obamacare Losers’ article linked above:

    Millions of married, older, white, college-educated, GOP-leaning Americans have quickly seen their political profile rise after their health insurance companies sent them cancellation letters with the launch of the giant new health care law.

    Right — it’s the phrase ‘GOP-leaning.‘ That would be the faux-opposition party which nominated Mitt Romney, who piloted Obamacare in Massachusetts.

    Good old Lamestream Media, trying to herd all the dissatisfied little citizens into their broken, obsolete political duopoly.

    When the Depublicrat party goes down, the MSM goes with it!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Sorry, should have pointed out how Politico is doing “fair and balanced” on Obamacare: it runs Dem propaganda as its lead story (yesterday), R propaganda today.

    1. Walter Map

      The vendors who developed the Obamacare site are obviously incompetent.

      If they really knew what they were doing they would have copied the existing sites run by Massachusetts or Kentucky for a fraction of the budgeted cost and simply pocketed the difference.

      You should know that the only reason why civilization hasn’t been destroyed yet is because most kleptocrats really aren’t very good at what they do. A truly skilled practitioner would have reduced the planet to powder by now.

      1. Ulysses

        This comment is extremely accurate. Yet we cannot rely only on the kleptocrats’ own incompetence to keep us from being crushed. We need to work proactively to confuse and frustrate these wannabe evil “geniuses”. I leave it to the creative imaginations of the NC commentariat to devise methods and means to befuddle the bad’uns!

  3. Ned Ludd

    The original modems turned data into sound and back again, in order to send it over the phone line. What “badBIOS” apparently does it similar, except it uses ultrasound – frequencies greater than the upper limit of human hearing – so you don’t hear it playing across your speakers. The communication channel it establishes is probably very slow, in order to maximize error correction so it can deal with background noise and the potentially poor quality of the audio signal that the other computer picks it up on its microphone.

    1. Keith

      Yeah, nothing new about using sound to transmit data and I don’t doubt this is technically possible given the right accoustic environment and good enough speakers and microphones on a laptop.

      Speakers and microphones have a specific range of sound frequencies they can produce and receive. My understanding is that most speakers can’t reproduce sounds at frequencies outside the range of human hearing. Why should they? It’s a waste of money to spend extra for that ability for normal daily use.

      If it turns out Badbios really exists and can do this, how many audio speakers actually have the range to produce the infrasound frequencies badbios uses? That’s what I’d like to know.

      1. hunkerdown

        My understanding is that most speakers can’t reproduce sounds at frequencies outside the range of human hearing. Why should they? It’s a waste of money to spend extra for that ability for normal daily use.

        Except that it costs more to add parts to brick-wall mics, loudspeakers or piezo transducers at 20kHz than to simply disregard as moot anything humans can’t hear. Piezo transducers, in particular, are very low-cost, are not uncommon, and have very good natural high-frequency response.

        Also, at these frequency ranges and sampling rates, you don’t even need a great acoustic environment or all that much processing power to recover data. The techniques and algorithms have been deployed in consumer electronics contexts for some time, most visibly in high-speed phone modems.

        Until I see a ROM dump, I see a seasonal ghost story or an advertorial.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      So then you can sabotage this by keeping your speakers turned off, correct? And/or getting some ultrasound suppressing software installed (I’m assuming someone will gin that up as a response….)?

      1. bob

        On a desktop machine, maybe turning off, or better, unplugging the speakers could stop it. Same with a mic.

        With a laptop, it’s more difficult. Turning the speakers of mic off doesn’t necessarly mean that they are off. The virus appears to work at the BIOS level and the comp could show both being off, but they would still be on.

        Lens caps- All camera’s used to have them. A lens cap meant that even if a camera was ON it couldn’t take a picture of anything.

        The same should be demanded by consumers for webcams, speakers and mics attached to laptops. A true, physical switch that can isolate the mic, cam and speakers and wifi. Most “switches” on electronics these days are not true switches, they are just buttons which work with either the OS or Bios to toggle the peripherals “on” and “off”. With the viri at the BIOS level that button is useless. Worse than useless, it can lead people to a false sense of security.

        It should also be noted that speakers are by definition microphones. If the mic is off or disconnected, and the speakers are still connected, it could use the speakers as a mic. The NSA and others have played with this concept for decades.

        It’s a great story, and if true, very scary that it’s been out there for at least 4 years without anyone else noticing it.

        1. anon y'mouse

          doesn’t this also imply that your phone could be used as a vehicle/vector?

          I don’t personally do it, but have been concerned in the past about phone hijacking to have an easy, in-house bug connection and wondered about removing the battery and card and stuff. or should one just use a faraday cage?

          then again, who wants to hear someone rant about politics to their cat?

          1. bob

            Phones are small laptops. J edgar hoover is drooling with delight 6 feet under. “they will pay money to BUY a device that is the greatest bug ever?”

            There should be a switch on phones too. That apple doesn’t allow the battery to be removed is not a “design flaw”. Turning off an iPhone is a perfect example of “not off”. The phone goes into a low power mode and still communicates with the network. There were several stories of people traveling the the first iphones who thought they were turned off only to get home and find a several hundred dollar “roaming” bill.

            Personally, I think that the original use of this feature was by google to map, in real time, the lay of the land. Between the known locations of cell towers and the ubiquity of wifi routers, it’s a perfect set up for a very high resolution survey.

            Now add a camera, or two(!).

            1. gepay

              I read of an FBI investigation where they were unable to place a physical bug on the gangsters. They turned on their cellphones and used them as microphones. From there I read that most cellphones have a back door so that they can be turned on. You have to take the battery out to be safe from this intrusion by sophisticated investigators.

  4. Demeter

    Yves: Regarding a pardon for Snowden

    Nixon was never convicted of anything, but he was issued a full pardon…ditto the Iran/Contra bunch. Even those who were convicted got pardons, but a lot never even got that far. Even Marc Rich got a pardon!

    So there is precedent. And it would be fitting to pardon a non-felon before the fact, a good citizen who did his duty and paid the second-ultimate price. It coud start a fashion!

    1. neo-realist

      All those individuals mentioned who were indicted, suspected, or convicted of crimes that were rewarded with pardons were either of the elites or devout servants of them.

      However, when you whistleblow on the confidences and affairs of the elites, that’s a totally different ball of wax. The elites would prefer if at all possible to reward such good citizenry with burial underneath the prison.

    2. optmader

      I would sooner expect to see BHO spontaneously combust, but yes anyone can be given a pardon/immunity from prosecution for anything

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Marc Rich was CONVICTED of tax fraud.

      Nixon was the equivalent of indicted (impeachment bill passed in the House).

      Iran Contra resulted in prosecutions too:

      Several investigations ensued, including those by the U.S. Congress and the three-person, Reagan-appointed Tower Commission. Neither found any evidence that President Reagan himself knew of the extent of the multiple programs.[2][3][7] Ultimately the sale of weapons to Iran was not deemed a criminal offense but charges were brought against five individuals for their support of the Contras. Those charges, however, were later dropped because the administration refused to declassify certain documents. The indicted conspirators faced various lesser charges instead. In the end, fourteen administration officials were indicted, including then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. Eleven convictions resulted, some of which were vacated on appeal.–Contra_affair

    1. anon y'mouse

      by ‘moi’ do you mean that you wrote this, dip? (don’t mind if i shorten your name to an approximation of a hindi first name, do ya?)

      1. AbyNormal

        that’s our Dip!…somethin ain’t he! ‘)

        this paragraph resonates…

        “The co-operative movement is the working class daring to think for itself, and that thought has the potential to upset many powerful vested interests. We shouldn’t be surprised, then, when the powers-that-be push back against this dangerous idea. Witness the hamstringing of health insurance co-operatives by Obamacare (as detailed in a recent Washington Post article here) as well as the current push in Congress to revoke credit unions’ tax-exempt status. When those at the bottom of society’s hierarchy begin to encroach on what have been the sole prerogatives of those further up the ladder, those at the top can be expected to do whatever they can to stop that encroachment.”

        1. anon y'mouse

          yeah, um…that was not meant as an insult.

          ‘dip’ is pronounced somewhat like ‘deep’ (as in Deepak Chopra–ooh, scareh!) but a bit abruptly in hindi.


  5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    That chicken’s descendants one day will rule the world, I believe.

    She/he’s got the curiosity gene required for science.

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Why word order is important.

    We don’t just rescue two legged victims.

    We just don’t rescue two legged victims.

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Something for nothing.

    One can win a Nobel Peace for having done nothing.

    So, one can be pardoned for not having been found guilty in a trial, using the same logic.

    It’s called ‘vision’ in both cases. You look ahead…through a crystal ball, however dusty.

    1. Walter Map

      Obama should have shared his Nobel Peace prize with Cheney.

      Legitimate winners should return theirs and keep the money.

      1. optimader

        “Legitimate winners should return theirs and keep the money.”
        Absolutely, and return it postage collect.
        It should be considered a personal embarrassment to retain one.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Old and busted US capital stock. Why?

    Why? All the functioning ones have been privatized (and allowed to degrade). The propaganda is on now for new ones to be built so they too can be privatized.

    Fixing neoliberalism (getting rid of corruption) before fixing any hardware/unlimited money policy.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Whom does the NSA not monitor – the Justices of the Supreme Court?

    Senator Feinstein? What’s her file like?

    1. Walter Map

      The evidence suggests that the NSA monitors everybody except terrorists and has Obama on a particularly short leash.

      1. optimader

        Assuming the NSA is a page out of the NKVD/Stasi/KGB playbook they have a file on everyone in a position of power, and they “protect them”.
        Nothing new here except the available technology.

      2. Chauncey Gardiner

        Based on the news releases, it seems likely to me that the NSA has conversations of those who engaged in racketeering, control fraud, securities fraud, etc. ahead of the Great Financial Collapse of 2008.

        Also likely there are some conversations subsequent to the collapse that would be of interest.

        Wonder if the prospective recordings are admissible evidence in a court of law?

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Today’s question du jour.

    Can an ex-president of the US run to be another country’s leader?

    Can, for example, Clinton become the Prime Minister of Italy or Greece?

    1. Walter Map

      The president is the de facto head of state of every country where the U.S. has a decisive military force. Technically most of the world is occupied territory. It’s an open secret that the U.S. does not have allies. It has satrapies.

      1. optimader

        President of Lithuania that was a but a administrator =
        President of Lithuania that was an administrator

        AS well a good guy so I am told

  11. from Mexico


    What a great post by Nat Parry. I especially liked his conclusion:

    With these kinds of numbers, it seems that the time is ripe for a real political alternative to emerge in the United States. While that likely would not be Russell Brand – a Brit with a controversial past of drug and alcohol abuse – the aggressive (and somewhat jealous and petty) response to his sudden uptick in popularity makes one wonder whether the American left is even interested in taking power to effect change.

    I think Russel Brand’s great sin was that he challenged the New Left’s orgy of victimhood.

    When I was active in LGBT grass-roots in the 1990s, the contest was on for who could be top victim. The blacks were vying with the Hispanics and the Jews, who were vying with the LGBTs, who were vying with the women, who were vying with the poor. And as Robert Huges put it in Culture of Complaint, “Since our new-found sensitivity decrees that only the victim shall be the hero, the white American male starts bawling for victim status too.”

    So it’s all one huge orgy of surrender and defeat.

    1. diptherio

      Yeah, the PTB love it when we internalize the powerless-victim meme. That way, only the government and the existing powers are assumed to have the ability to change things, which is what makes them powerful in the first place.

      The PTB prefer powerless victims to empowered agents of change, for obvious reasons.

  12. optimader

    OIF Vet,

    Get a dvd copy of the Czech film (my excellently diligent P Library ordered it for me):
    Dobrý voják Svejk (1957) subtitled in english

    Excellent dry, passive aggressive humor, true to the author. All the more amazing that it was even made in Czechoslovakia at the time. The political regime apparently did not realize that the literal satire of the A.H. Empire was a double entendre directed at the evil communist regime and the soviet “consultants”.

    Coincidentally, today:

    Remembering The Good Soldier Švejk

    By Martin Chilton, Culture Editor online

    7:30AM GMT 03 Jan 2013

    It’s 90 years today since bohemian writer Jaroslav Hašek died of heart failure, overweight and aged just 39, in the village of Lipnice.

    His legacy remains because of a 1923 novel, The Adventures Of The Good Soldier Švejk, which is a comic masterpiece.

    The Czech writer Arnošt Lustig said that Joseph Heller once told him at a New York party for Milos Forman in the late 1960s that he couldn not have written Catch-22 without first reading Hašek’s unfinished World War One satire. In Hašek’s bitterly funny tale, a crazy state bureaucracy traps a hapless soldier – in much the same way Heller’s hero Yossarian is trapped.

    The Good Soldier Švejk was a provocative, mickey-taking book and was removed from Czechoslovak army libraries in 1925, the Polish translation was confiscated in 1928 and it was suppressed in Bulgaria. The German translation burned on Nazi bonfires in 1933.

    The power of Švejk to subvert continued long after the author’s death. Gustáv Husák, the General Secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party who replaced Prague Spring reformer Alexander Dubček in 1968, told the people in the late 1970s to “stop Svejking!”.

    In the book, Švejk always had a reason for his mishaps, such as joining the enemy by mistake. He undermines the authority of the Austrian monarchy through his feigned stupidity. “Great times call for great men,” was Hašek’s ironic comment about Švejk.

    Since his death, Hašek’s 1,200 short stories have been published in Czech, and there was an annual festival of satire, Haškova Lipnice, in the author’s home village. Asteroid 7896 Švejk was named after the anti-hero, and there have been film adaptations, an opera, a musical and a play written by Bertolt Brecht based on the book. Peter Sellers used quotes from Švejk in his movie A Shot in the Dark.

    Hašek’s books remain in print and there is a whole group of academics and enthusiasts, called Švejkologists, who still study his remarkable work. Time for a re-read, perhaps. Mad times call for great books.

    The Good Soldier Švejk
    Ubiquitously famous in Europe virtually unknown in the US, Our time is coming for this work to resonate here.


    OIFVet says:

    November 2, 2013 at 3:37 am

    Good one. I grew up in Eastern Europe and satire being one of the few resistance weapons available, Shveik jokes were ubiquitous (and of course adopted to skewer the stupidity of the apparatchiks). Shveik stories were very comforting to me during my own deployment to Iraq every time I had to deal with the absurdity that only a bloated bureaucracy like our military chain of command can dream up.


  13. anon y'mouse

    would someone please clue me in–why would conservative groups be against having standards for trying to reach some percentage of renewable power generation by the states.

    why would anyone care, as long as the power gets generated? and yes, i don’t really mean “why?” because the answer is always some form of money/power nexus thing, but why does renewable power worry them so? it’s not like we’re about to turn off every coal plant in the country or anything. it’s not like there aren’t any opportunities to invest in renewables, so that they can diversify their energy portfolios.

    or are they worried that “if you build it, they (green-headed granola types) will come”?

      1. Kurt Sperry

        I don’t think it’s quite that, although a simple explanation will suffice.

        The moment the downward trendline in renewable energy cost crosses over the rising line for fossil fuels the divergent wedge between the two lines post crossover represents at the very least a diminishing profit margin for fossil and at some point an existential threat to the entire profit stream.

        Anything that encourages the development of sustainable or alternative energy sources brings the crossover points nearer in time and directly threatens that huge profit stream on the diverging curves.

        If they could be assured of all the profits from the new sources they wouldn’t feel threatened but they own the current golden egg laying chicken and the new golden egg laying chicken may not even be born yet. Or worse someone else might already own it.

        1. anon y'mouse

          yes, but in a loot-ocracy they will eventually get their time (share) at the trough, no?

          I mean, more companies equal more investment opportunities.

          probably the world’s oil corps own the largest chickens in that race of all right now, simply due to this fact.

  14. Eureka Springs

    It’s time the Dem party peeps demand removal of Dianne Feinstein from her/any seat on the intel committee. Perhaps all but Wyden should be replaced by Dems for they have obviously failed so miserably. It’s time to quit allowing such questions as the article title in links “How Much Did President Obama Know About the N.S.A. Eavesdropping on Angela Merkel?” asks today. Because all our reps should know and should have no excuse… far from just Obama, each and every member of congress should have 100 percent full access to all law, budgets and operations our agencies and executives conduct.

    Also enjoyed this EU perspective from William Pfaff. Clear simple framing and something many American and EU citizens could rally on together?
    America’s NSA Megalomania

    A side note/ question. Looks like a couple of changes were made on swaps this week in the House… alteration to Dodd Frank. Does this mean we are back on the hook for even more derivatives and such?

    1. Walter Map

      You’re overthinking this. The role of Congress is to mediate between the competing interests of global corporatists. Subservient and obedient, it has no independent authority.

  15. YankeeFrank

    About Russell Brand and the “authentic” left’s reaction to him: its really clear that those consituting “the left” in the US these days are a bunch of comfortable, over-privileged twits who don’t really want anything fundamental to change in our society. All they could do was pick at him for not being an “authentic” representative of whichever cause they are ineffectively fighting for at the moment. In fact, most effective leftists are too busy doing real work to reel off diatribes against those espousing views they nominally support.

    I saw it with OWS — a bunch of over-privileged, zealous young men hijacked the meetings and turned the movement into a puddle. It kind of reminds me of this John Dolan piece from the Exiled about the fake feminists and their hatred of Andrea Dworkin:

    1. YankeeFrank

      Not that I’m comparing Dworkin to Brand btw. Just that these people seem to wear their leftiness as fashion.

    2. anon y'mouse

      he doesn’t have the ‘right’ to speak because he is not a victim.

      i believe this is the real motivation for why so many younger people nowadays (and have been since i was young, come to think…)are searching for their tribal roots among some repressed minority. oh, and getting tattoos to indicate membership in various groups, thought-collectives and so on.

      in the coming world, and in the coming war, will the painfully waspish white person be in danger? i worry about it. i’m no wasp, but my racial/ethnic/victim background is of the general U.S. Mutt variety. i’m not going to run off and tattoo a phony tribal flag of plaid across my bicep in order to be saved, as it would be false.

      do we all have to worry about our credentials being scrutinized in order to have the right to be outraged? EVERY one who is a thinking person should be outraged right now.

      1. craazyman

        It’ll be like Cornell Wilde in NAKED PREY. If we start running now, we might survive. :)

        If Mr. Brand will play Captain Jack Sparrow in the next Pirates of the Carribean we might be able to turn this sucker around. Most people don’t respond to wonkish debate, they respond to what they imagine in their minds because that’s what shapes infinity.

        There’s an island nation under the jackboot of debt-slave tyranny lorded over by a feckless elite and ruled by the oozingly repulsive Governor Elijha Squid. A rebellion has been repressed by security goons and the wonkish leader is jailed in the island’s maximum security stockade for progressive agitation. The leader’s sister — the amazingly bodacious Amanda Wright-Principle (name to be improved once production starts), who was rescued from a raft in the open ocean by the Black Pearl after she fled the island — has implored Captain Sparrow to use his charisma to rally the rebellion and free her brother from the stockade so he can organize a government of liberty and justice for all. At first he refuses, since this sounds like an enormous amount of work that will interfere with his drinking, but he is visited in a dream by a voodoo goddess who tells him he must do as Amanda wishes or he’ll be cursed and die. This scares him so badly he agrees and that’s when the adventure starts.

        Mr. Brand won’t even need a costume! Just a pirate hat and he’s there. If Disney will finance this film it will be amazing, but miracles happen sometimes.

      2. hunkerdown

        So only those who won’t be let near a microphone on their own prerogative have any right to speak. How convenient for the elite!

    3. Chris Rogers

      I’ve never been a Russell Brand fan, by which I mean I never actually cottoned on to his humour. His quite an established TV media figure here in the UK with numerous shows on the UK Channel Four TV station – he was also big on the Comedy circuit travelling around the UK – suffice to say, I’m afraid time past us both by.
      So, I was quite shocked to begin reading articles penned by him in the Guardian Newspaper, I was of the opinion that he was another middle class comedian with a fake accent similar in vein to Sasha Baron Cohen. Turns out these were all misconceptions on my behalf, and actually he’s really from an impoverished working class background from the South East of the UK and what you see and hear is actually what you get in reality.

      Hence, not only was I impressed by the venom in his Guardian articles, but stunned at the way he handled Jeremy Paxman on BBC2’s flagship news and current affairs programme, Newsnight – Paxman being considered a very big beast in the jungle by the UK’s mainsteam media and elected politicians.

      Now, much of what Brand spoke about resonated with me and many others deplored at the inroads neoliberalism has made into our daily lives and how corporations have basically captured and corrupted our politicians, civil servants and media outlets – hence, for someone to actually speak like he did to a member of the UK’s establishment really was a big deal – that he spoke from the heart and vented his real anger on a UK mainstream TV channel really caught my attention and made me sit up.

      Now, I’m more or less 100% behind Russell, but, unlike him, I do believe we can get change if we actually could be bothered to vote for a real radical political Party, its only happened twice in the last 100 years in the UK, with the election of an openly democratic socialist government in July 1945, and with the election of Thatcher in 1979 – although her radicalism was infused with the neoliberalism I despise. About the only other radical government the UK has ever had was the Liberal Administration of 1906-1914 that contained lloyd George and Churchill within its ranks.

      So, hope exists, but change can only be achieved if we elect politicians who are committed to the cause of justice and equality, rather than the tossers we have in place today in most Western liberal democracies.

      That’s it, I’d mandate voting, but always with the caveat of voting for “none of the above” and if a majority voted for none of the above, you resolve the existing political order and begin again until the change we desire is actually mandated upon those who undertake our wishes, and not those of interest groups or an elite.

      Still radical stuff and glad of the Internet to be able to catch it on You Tube here in Hong Kong – if it was 20 years ago, that would have been impossible.

  16. craazyboy

    ObamaCare Clusterfuck: How was CGI supposed to do any debugging without access to the logs? Corrente

    Umm, you are supposed to write the error handling, error logging and tracking, and debugging code.

    1. Lambert Strether

      For your own system, yes, I agree — and assuming you own all the logs that you need. But if I were debugging a systems integration issue, I’d want all the logs I could get my hands on. Anyhow, what conceivable reason could there be for not granting them access?

      1. craazyboy

        Depends on what they mean by logs, assuming the person that made this statement even has any idea what they are talking about.

        Web server software logs connection info, and will write some arcane messages if it crashes. (out of memory error, maybe)

        The server operating system will write something if it crashes. (out of memory error, maybe)

        The relational database software can be set to log DB errors – like the time of day to the 1/100ths of a second that something happened to make it unhappy.

        None of this is very useful in troubleshooting software integrity issues. If you are trying to figure out if the hardware you bought can handle adequate capacity of a working software system, then that’s something else again.

        Everything else must be written as part of the application. If they interface to other parts of systems under a different org under a different roof, then the other place has to do it too. When transactions are made the system should either get back the information it requested, or successful notification that information got tucked safely away in the other DB, or a fail notification along with where the fail came from.

        After spending my early days chasing errors around a corporate network (including screen shots of cryptic messages on the users PC), I wrote my own standardized error handling and logging component that I could stick into and use for everything I ever wrote since then. I would first grab the user login ID, then for each object instantiation thru the entire chain of execution, if an error occurred it would grab the name of the object code module where the error occurred, grab the error message, whether it was a programmer message, came from the operating system or came from the DB. Then I’d format all this info into a nicely formatted error message and write it to an error log file. Plus there was an option to set it to instant message the error to my computer. This was useful even thru the first days of a rollout.

        The other possibility is that the person making this statement is BSing, and making excuses to buy time. That happens a lot.

      2. Andrey Subbotin

        Logs could contain confidential information, passwords, credit card numbers, etc. So yes, for a large project you should either review log writing code to be sure the output is harmless, or think carefully about who gets access.

        1. craazyboy

          They are using an Oracle database. When designing the database schema, you can set fields in a database table to store sensitive info as encrypted data.

  17. craazyboy

    ObamaCare Clusterfaaak: How was CGI supposed to do any debugging without access to the logs? Corrente

    Umm, you are supposed to write the error handling, error logging and tracking, and debugging code.

  18. fresno dan

    Two Forces and Three Bears James Howard Kunstler (Carol B)
    “The diminishing returns of computer technology applied to intelligence gathering are that it produces more mountains of data than any team of professionals can make sense of, and it prompts said professionals to make mischief with the information that is easiest to sort out: the financial records of ordinary citizens.”

    NSA Whistleblower: Government Failed to Stop Boston Bombing Because It Was Overwhelmed with Data from Mass Surveillance On Americans – 11/01/2013 – George Washington

    My own opinion is the guys who monitor all the computer communications spend all their time clueing in their comrades to the selfies of hot chicks they find…(that’s unfair – I’m sure the more diligent spend time looking for insider stock information…)

  19. fresno dan

    It remains a pillar of Republican orthodoxy that taxes on unearned income, especially capital gains, should be low, or even eliminated. But it was Ronald Reagan who as president championed taxing capital gains at the same rate as earned income. This was a crucial part of his 1986 tax reform, which lowered overall rates by broadening the tax base.

    “Capital gains have taken on a totemic significance to the Republicans,” said Professor Kleinbard. “But they’re just another way that you earn a return by investing capital in productive activity. There’s nothing magical about capital gains from an economic point of view.”

    The view that it’s fundamentally unfair to tax capital gains and other unearned income at preferential rates has been gaining traction, even among the superrich. This week, Pimco’s co-founder, Bill Gross, wrote in his November investment outlook, “The era of taxing ‘capital’ at lower rates than ‘labor’ should now end.”

    If the rational was that “capital” is scarce, recent evidence is that we can create as much as we want (savings glut). The money held in reserves in banks isn’t going anywhere because there is no point in producing more if no one can buy your stuff.
    So how about reducing taxes on labor to at least the same as on capital?

    1. Walter Map

      So how about reducing taxes on labor to at least the same as on capital?

      The reason why labor is taxed at all is so the proceeds can be rebated back to capital as corporate welfare.

      If you’re really interested in learning the ins and outs of federal accounting practices you’re going to need tarot cards, a roulette wheel, and an open tab with a bourbon distillery.

    2. Chris Rogers

      Don’t wish to rain on your parade with this i.e., reduce taxes on labour to the same or lower rates than that on capital gains.

      Just one small fly in your ointment, namely, not too many actually have work, or enough of it to begin with. Added all together, those who are unemployed, those who have even fell off being unemployed, those who are low hours per week, and those who are on low hours and want better jobs, you’re now looking at 50% of the actual real workforce – not the pretend workforce they produce with the monthly employment figures.

      So never mind lowing taxes, I suggest you look at creating work for nearly every one and re-distributing wealth.

      In the present environment and on present trajectories by the time I’m dead in maybe 30 years time, we’re going to see maybe only one in ten actually working, with the vast bulk of wealth in a very tiny ruling elites hands, forget the 1%, I’m talking the 0.1% global elite.

      Still, whilst Marx has many detractors, and whilst his economic determinism was seriously flawed, one things for sure, we can now even forget surplus labour, particularly when nearly everyone will be unemployed and living off grass, so, thumbs up to Marx’s, his analyse may have been flawed with regards productive capitalists and rent extracting capitalists, but the fact remains, they are still their own gravediggers – although, if we disgruntled left of centres types ever joined forces, i’m sure we could help them dig their graves a little faster with our assistance – one things for sure, just waiting for the inevitable does not seem an option, particularly as far as global warming and resource extraction is concerned.

  20. susan the other

    Angry Bear. A Study in the Dynamics of International Flows. aka: The Joys of Preemptive Free Trade? By impoverished labor. This article should be posted by itself. The reason no country can export its savings (from its trade surpluses) is because “The world is awash in excess savings.” Sounds right to me. This piece made my eyeballs spin – and I took away my own opinions, as usual, but it was really a good write up which partially explains the confusion (or pretense) of economists. I think.

    It was about Germany’s surplus, but equally about China and the US. Altho this summary did not go into the cause (?) of Germany’s surplus, it seems to me it was caused when then agreed to pay an exorbitant price to buy back East Germany from Russia. Setting off a national austerity in order to produce the revenue and that could have caused a chain reaction in the following decade (the one just past) that destroyed the balance of trade in Europe via Germany loan sharking all that money to them, as if the GIPSIs could ever produce like Germans. Just wondering.

    Anyway, somehow I manage to believe that free trade policies are the culprit. They have been imposed on a world that just isn’t ready for them. A world that still impoverishes labor, etc. But even if the world were uniformly civilized, what’s the point of all that trade? It is highly overrated.

    1. anon y'mouse

      someone once said that this globalization thing was an attempt at Worldwide Wage Equalization.

      sometimes the thought occurs is that the powers that be realized that as long as imbalances occur, they are there to be exploited. so the short term goal is exploitation, but the long-term goal is equalization so that there is no further reason for exploitation. if you get me. we have to go through the pain and farce of it all in order to let places that were ‘backwards’ advance enough to hold equal power. meanwhile, we -justify- this among the rich/powerful as a way to get more rich and powerful.

      if thought about in those terms, it’s the economic solution to world peace. the problem is, it sacrifices so many along the way and appears to trend more into removing all self-determination and installing corporato-fascism instead of democratic movements.

      idle thoughts….i don’t see the point of forcing every part of the world to be ‘equal’ either. this is a misguided view that does not take into account the fact that separate ecosystems and cultural variety based in part on them is valuable in and of itself.

      they want a star trek world. the problem is that evolution did not provide us a worldwide monoculture.

  21. Debtors' Revolt Now

    It’s time to stop living in fear, regain our dignity, and do so through ACTION, in recognition that our system has morphed into something new – the old rules and methods don’t work, “voting” is just a sham; there are no political solutions to this coming crisis.

    We need a mass, wide-scale repudiation and REFUSAL to play along any more. We must gird our loins, gather our courage and walk away. Let their system collapse in on itself. Yes, it will cause short-term pain, a flash of catastrophe across the boards, but then we will emerge into a new reality, one that recognizes that with modern technology being what it is, *scarcity is now artificial.*

    If we continue along the current trajectory, much of labor and the middle class will be rendered economically obsolete, and all the gains will concentrate in the hands of those who currently own capital. We must crash this trajectory; the need is more urgent that most people – and writers, public figures, etc. – realize.

    DEBTORS’ REVOLT — DEFAULT EN MASSE is the way to start.

  22. Chris Rogers


    First and foremost I find it extremely daft that commentators seem to be think that there is a leftwing out there somewhere thats organised and representative of concerned folks of a left-of-centre disposition. Wake-up, small the coffee, it does not, and I emphasise, does not exist period.

    We have organised groups and political parties claiming to be representatives of the left, but on closer examination they are too the right, neoliberal drum beaters to a man taking us for a ride – this can be easily seen by visiting and seeing where our leading political mouthpieces actually lie on the political spectrum – its scary stuff, but their online questionnaire to gain an idea where we actually stand is great fun and informative – me, I’m far to the left of Gandhi on the libertarian-side of the scale, which is nice to know.

    Now, lets be honest, the left as it presently stands is a loose knit assembly of different strands in multiple nations and is well represented on these boards. Organising these strands effectively and stopping it from being co-opted, or destroyed by state repression is a mute point and one that must be overcome if we are to reverse the neoliberal coup and save our planet from “natters” who think environmentalism is tantamount to Communism or worshipping the Devil.

    So, I applaud Russell Brand and Yves for at least giving us a vice and gaining some valuable airtime. here’s a suggestion though, why don’t we link Russell Brand up with Yves and a few other malcontents well versed in getting a message out to the masses that our elite would prefer not aired.

    I’m up for trying to arrange this and getting a message over to a wider audience than those who click on this site – most are not red necks of those on welfare by the way.

    Anyway, its a thought and really would piss off the Mainstream media who shovel neoliberal dross at us on a daily and hourly basis.

    I’ve had enough, I’m angry and I think its time for pushback utilising what few tools we have – but utilise them we must if we are to avoid an economic catastrophe.

  23. Robert Hurst

    Yves was great in a recent short interview on the FAIR podcast, talking about jpm. Sorry I don’t have a link but it’s worth looking up.

  24. Hugh

    Re the pardoning power of the President (Article II, Section 2), the Constitution states the President “shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.”

    In the first Supreme Court case involving the pardoning power, US vs Wilson (1833), Chief Justice Marshall wrote

    “As this power had been exercised from time immemorial by the executive of that nation whose language is our language, and to whose judicial institution ours bear a close resemblance; we adopt their principles respecting the operation and effect of a pardon, and look into their books for the rules prescribing the manner in which it is to be used by the person who would avail himself of it. A pardon is an act of grace, proceeding from the power entrusted with the execution of the laws, which exempts the individual, on whom it is bestowed, from the punishment the law inflicts for a crime he has committed. It is the private, though official act of the executive magistrate, delivered to the individual for whose benefit it is intended, and not communicated officially to the Court. . . . A pardon is a deed, to the validity of which delivery is essential, and delivery is not complete without acceptance. It may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered; and if it be rejected, we have discovered no power in a court to force it on him.”

    [However, clemency, one aspect of the pardoning power, can be exercised without the consent of the recipient.] The important point here is that a pardon assumes that its recipient has committed the criminal act which the pardon covers.

    The post-Civil War case ex parte Garland (1867) directly addressed the questions of pre- and post- conviction pardons and the question of guilt and innocence.

    “[T]he inquiry arises as to the effect and operation of a pardon, and on this point all the authorities concur. A pardon reaches both the punishment prescribed for the offence and the guilt of the offender; and when the pardon is full, it releases the punishment and blots out of existence the guilt, so that in the eye of the law the offender is as innocent as if he had never committed the offence. If granted before conviction, it prevents any of the penalties and disabilities consequent upon conviction from attaching; if granted after conviction, it removes the penalties and disabilities, and restores him to all his civil rights; it makes him, as it were, a new man, and gives him a new credit and capacity.”

    Again a pardon assumes guilt, whether there has been a conviction or not. It is not exoneration. Rather as Justice Field writes in ex parte Garland, it blots out the guilt and its consequences and reestablishes, at least in the eyes of the law, the good standing of the recipient.

    p. 510 and following.

  25. Hugh

    Re Russell Brand, I have no problem with what he is saying. I and others have been saying similar things for some time. What I dislike is that in our elitist, celebrity validated society, these ideas are invisible until a celebrity or an elite voices them. I applaud Brand using his position as a celebrity subversive to be actually subversive and bring these ideas out into the open. I just think it is terrible that this is the only way that ideas about corruption, wealth inequality, and disempowerment can get the wide currency they deserve.

    1. anon y'mouse

      that is sad, but you know what—it is a huge sigh of relief now that the subject has been brought up and not totally trashed on all the media left, right, center and 11th dimension-spaceward.
      perhaps we are closer to admitting that there IS a reality out there that is not being discussed at all, much less talk about what it might look like. its like the aliens have landed and although they have tentacles on their heads, they’re talkin’ sensible English.

    2. RanDomino

      Yes, thank you! You understand. The GOP projects power and the Democrats project weakness- but people are attracted to power. So the Democrats will keep on losing and NEVER UNDERSTAND WHY. Chris Hedges supports a strategy of powerlessness, weakness, begging for mercy- he wags his finger at those who understand the need to have and utilize power, and wonders why it gets bit off. But nothing can change without power. What exactly that means can vary wildly, but it sure fucking doesn’t mean waving signs and asking.

  26. rich

    Dark Money’s New Frontier: State Judicial Elections

    In America, we expect that our courts are fair and impartial — that their primary interest is to serve justice under the law. But increasingly, state high courts are falling prey to the same out-of-control, post-Citizens United election spending that has plagued legislative and executive races during the past two election cycles.
    “The constitution created a court system that’s supposed to be insulated from politics because we give the courts a different job than our other government officials,” says Brandenburg. “We elect legislators and executives to make promises and keep promises — ‘I will cut your taxes, I will increase your health care’ — and then we hold them to it.

    “Judges are supposed to have a different job. They’re supposed to resolve disputes fairly and impartially, one case at a time, based on the facts and the law and not political pressure, not interest group spending. And in addition, they’re supposed to protect people’s rights. In a situation where the majority may not agree with a particular right, we want the courts to be able to stand up to pressure. And the more you wear away at the political insulation around the courts, the more you risk having them be accountable to interest groups and partisans instead of the law and the constitution.”

    “State courts are incredibly important. More than 90 percent of cases go through state court,” says Alicia Bannon, a counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, an initiative to insure that politicians listen to the voices of citizens over special interests. “If you look at who is actually spending money in these races, we found that more than half of campaign contributions came from lawyers, lobbyists and business interests — so exactly the people and organizations that are having cases decided by state court judges.”

    “Everybody who is a judge in America faces increasing political pressure that’s designed to get them to be accountable to politics over the law.”

  27. anon y'mouse

    don’t know about you folks, but the internet broke for quite a few hours in my part of the world. call to provider indicated unspecified ‘outages’ in south, southwest, Midwest, west and northwest.

Comments are closed.